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This product was a huge motivator for me when I first started running. Without it, I know for certain that on those days when it was too windy, too rainy, too hot etc(!) I would have stayed indoors and not completed my run. Any product that can get an unfit person to lace up their trainers and pound the pavements has to be a good thing!
I originally bought this watch because it looked stylish. I'd already looked at nikeplus.com and liked the layout of the website, and the ability to analyse your runs. I opted for an understated slate grey/blue model, because I was a bit self-conscious about having a watch like this at first. Surely someone as unfit as I was shouldn't be wearing anything like this!
Before you can set the watch up to track your runs you need to fasten the Nike + sensor into the sole of your Nike + trainers (if you're lucky enough to own a pair!) Alternatively, you need to do what I did and buy a holder which fastens to the laces of any ordinary pair of trainers. It would be nice if Nike supplied the holder, but alas they don't. I got mine for under £5, but it's an added expense that would be nice to avoid.
Next step is calibration. This is really easy and takes less than 5 minutes. Just plug the watch into the USB port of your computer, log on to nikeplus.com and enter your vital statistics.
I was so excited when I first ran with this that I flew out the door like a lunatic - only to have to stop and walk 5 minutes into my run! Anyway, tracking a run is dead easy, you just hold the big button down until it flashes - then walk a few steps while it 'talks' to the sensor - and you're away! During a run, vital information such as duration, distance, pace, calories burned and time are available at the touch of a button - or you can set the watch to scroll through this information on a loop. You can even customise in which order this data appears.
Once you get home, just plug the watch into your computer's USB port and it will automatically connect nikeplus.com and upload your most recent run. nikeplus.com is in my opinion the best website out there for analysing your runs - the interface is colourful and fun, and you can earn rewards and trophies based upon your running exploits. I could write a 500 word review of the website alone, however, all I will say is that even though I now use a Garmin watch that cost 3x the amount of the SportsBand, I still convert my Garmin data to nikeplus for analysis.
So, why am I now a Garmin user if this product is so great? Well, after almost a year of trouble-free use my trusty SportBand finally gave up the ghost. This was probably my own fault. I sweat A LOT when I run, and obviously, the perspiration was getting into my watch.I was just getting back from my run and plugging the watch straight into my computer - this not only caused my USB port to rust - but the contacts on the watch eventually rusted too, meaning that although the watch still tracked a run, I had no way of uploading the data to my computer because of the bad connection! If I had simply wiped down the watch of sweat after every run, then I'm sure I would have got at least another year's use from it.
Overall, this is a great little watch ideally suited to a new runner perhaps looking for that bit of extra motivation, and I would recommend it as a must have for anyone who likes to analyse their running data.
I've read reviews on other sites that slate the accuracy of this product. The bottom line is if you want VERY accurate data then you're going to have to pay twice the price for a GPS-enabled device. This watch performs admirably for the money, and if it's a hundred meters out after a 10k run it really didn't bother me.
The SportBand retails at around £40 which represents great value in my book.
Originally I'd been looking at GPS type watches as a potential present for my partner, who's a runner, and is always querying (or exaggerating?!) how far he had run on particular outings, but he doesn't like wearing watches and they all seemed quite bulky. This "sportband" seemed to be much more likely to fit the bill, and would be something we could both use - although for me it would be much less energetic walking!
The wristband comes packaged in a hard clear plastic box, displayed like a watch would be displayed, fastened around a plastic moulding, and the plastic white shoe sensor is fixed to the base. The band itself is a soft flexible (yet fairly rigid) plastic material approximately 20mm wide. The first thing I was really glad to notice was the lightness of it, which was really important if my partner was going to get used to using it. The other great thing was the way the strap fastened - it has two raised studs on one side which push through holes in the other side of the band according to fit.
On the front of the band is the main event - the actual face, or screen. This is a small digital display, only 1cmx2cm approx, yet it is very clear to see at a glance when you are running or walking along. The default display on the screen is the time, and to the right of the display there is a single circular button which is the main start/stop button, and a button on the top to toggle between the information held in the chip.
On our marks
The shoe sensor is specifically designed to fit into Nike+ running shoes, (although there are ways around this) and it communicates with the chip held in the wristband to log and monitor data. It is around 1.5cm x 2.5cm and really slim, with no weight to it.
Before you start, you need to download the Nike+ software onto a computer. As a standalone item, once set up, the wristband and sensor are fine for measuring distances walked or run, time spent and calories burned, but you need to set the software up in order to set up preferences for units of measurement, to calibrate the chip in the band and to input your height/weight etc which are needed to calculate calories burned.
Also by using the software you cand do more extensive analysis, including charts and graphs and comparisons over longer periods of time, even with other users over the internet site if you so wish.
When you're ready for the off, the screen/chip is slotted into the band with a usb shaped connector, and then snaps firmly into place attached to the band with another stud, the same design as the main wrist fastening, but much easier!
Pressing the large button on the front for 3 seconds begins the "pairing process" when you need to walk around whilst the chip in the screen connects with the chip in your shoe. This only takes a few moments before each run or walk, and after this a single press within the next two minutes will start the recording process, so as soon as you are ready to go you press the button and you're away.
During your outing, if you stop you can pause the timer by a single press, as long as you remember to press again when you're once more on the move!
At the end of your walk or run, one more long press of the button and the chip recognises that your workout is over and stores its information. Immediately after you do this, it scrolls through the essential data - distance travelled, time, average speed, calories burned - whatever your preferences are.
Any time after that you simply unclip the chip from the band and plug it into a usb port on the computer. This automatically launches the Nike+ software and downloads your latest activity data, where it is logged and you can view all manner of arrangements of that information - to see how your week or month has gone, how your speed compares with previously, your calories burned etc. This process also charges the chip, so if you are using it regularly, we've found that it will never really need charging.
This is a great piece of sports kit which has really met the hopes I had for it. My partner can keep an accurate track of distances when he's building up his mileage whereas for me, I just find it nice to know how far I've walked. In terms of accuracy we carried out some tests early on and although not 100% accurate, we found that in terms of distance it was always to within half a mile or thereabouts which I think is perfectly acceptable considering it's reliant on steps and not GPS, and it's more than enough for ourselves.
Any aches and pains?
The only real problem with the sportband is the difficulty my partner has getting the band to snap onto his wrist. It is pretty fiddly, particularly if you are looking for a snug fit to your wrist and have chunky fingers.
My only other annoyance with it was the intimation that you needed to buy the Nike+ shoes to use it, which is clearly not the case.
The cost of the band is currently £40 on the Nike store website, which includes the sensor and represents very good value for what you're getting. Overall, its 5 out of 5 from me.